Sunday, September 29, 2002



L&L partners eye
international growth

The plate lunch chain plans more locations
on the mainland and Guam and in Japan

By Debra Barayuga

Eddie Flores and Kwock Yum "Johnson" Kam of L&L Drive-Inn have a mission: To boldly go where no plate lunch has gone before.

As partners in L&L Franchise Inc., they have expanded their popular plate lunch chain from the very first restaurant in Liliha to Waianae, Waimanalo and onto the West Coast, where they're known as L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

"We brought plate lunch mainstream," said Flores.

Their recipe for success, they say, is to consistently serve generous portions of made-to-order, mouth-watering food, fast and at reasonable prices at all 47 locations here and on the mainland.

When sisters Fran Leung and Agnes Demarke are looking for "good local food," L&L more often than not comes to mind.

"I wonder why no one's taking this (concept) to the mainland?" Leung asked recently as she polished off a teriyaki beef saimin and french fries at the Ward Entertainment Centre L&L.

L&L partners Eddie Flores Jr., left, and Kwock Yum Kam welcomed patrons to the Ward Entertainment Complex eatery, one of the newest additions to their 47-outlet plate-lunch franchise.

Apparently, the sisters hadn't heard of the 12 L&L Hawaiian Barbecues in California, Oregon and the one that opened July 17 in Las Vegas at the Whitney Ranch Center in Henderson.

"They have taken one of the essences of Hawaii -- the plate lunch -- and exported it to the mainland," said Keith Shimomura, manager at the Kailua branch of Hawaii National Bank, a financial supporter of L&L. Hawaii National Bank nominated Flores and Kam as Hawaii's Small Business Person of the Year in 1998, the year they won.

On the mainland, according to Flores, is where L&L's impact will be in the long run. Already, L&L Hawaiian Barbecues are doing 30 percent higher sales than the L&L Drive-Inns in Hawaii.

Flores attributes this to less competition and better choice of locations. And in five years, he expects there will be L&Ls opening on Guam and in Japan.

The lemon chicken plate is one of L&L's popular offerings.

"I will predict five to 10 years from now, plate lunches will be synonymous with hamburgers and tacos," said Flores.

"I really feel that we will have a lot more impact in the future to spread the aloha of Hawaii to the mainland because we're going to be out there.

"We will be selling Hawaii, Hawaiian food and the aloha spirit," he added.

Oh, and don't forget the Spam musubi. The L&Ls here don't sell them, but they're selling a hundred a day at the Carson, Calif., restaurant, Flores said.

"It's crazy," Flores said.

"Eddie Flores and Kwock Yum Kam have helped many immigrants, like themselves, not only get started in business, but eventually own that business," Shimomura said.

Many of their employees either are partners or franchisees in L&Ls here and on the mainland. Every one of their cooks on the mainland are from Hawaii and have been in their system for a long time.

L&L facts

Founded: 1976

First name: Formerly the L&L Dairy (Kept L&L because K&F didn't sound good.)

Executives: Eddie Flores and Kwock Yum "Johnson" Kam

Menu: Serves traditional two scoop rice, macaroni salad with choice of meat/seafood plate lunches, mini-plates and various other local fast-food dishes

Employees: 750 to 850 part- and full-time employees

L&L Drive-Inn

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